Provence's artists, on the trail of painters and filmmakers
Culture - Not to be missed
Provence is a place where art comes to life. Its landscapes and light inspired Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence, Van Gogh in Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the Lumière brothers in La Ciotat and Pagnol in Aubagne. From Cézanne's studio to the Bibemus Quarries that were so inspiring, visit sites on which the painters left an indelible impression. Van Gogh painted almost 300 works in 15 months, his most prolific period, in Arles! From museums to iconic landscapes, this 4-day tour promises a journey of Provence through film and the fine arts.
Day 1 – Aix-en-Provence on the trail of Cézanne
Start your tour by following the waymarked trail retracing the life of this native of Aix. You'll visit his studio and the Granet Museum, home to ten of his masterpieces. Then, from the Bibemus Quarries, admire the views over Sainte-Victoire, the mountain that so inspired him. After a gourmet lunch at a 'Tables 13' restaurant, continue your artistic tour of Aix at the Centre d'Art Caumont and the Fondation Vasarely. A fan of contemporary art? Then head to Gallifet Art Center and check out canvases by promising new talents.
Day 2 – Arles, Van Gogh's landscapes
Day 2 is spent in Arles where you'll follow the Van Gogh trail to (re)discover the places immortalised by the artist, such as the Quai du Rhône in The Starry Night and Pont de Langlois. Next make a detour to the Fondation Van Gogh where his contemporaries pay homage. After having a coffee at a terrace on Place du Forum, choose from a relaxed bistro or Michelin-starred restaurant for lunch. History buffs will love strolling along the roads of the Alyscamps or visiting Montmajour Abbey which the painter also immortalised.
Day 3 – St-Rémy, homage to Van Gogh
Day 3 is also dedicated to the Dutch painter, but takes you to Saint-Rémy. Begin with the guided tour 'In the steps of Van Gogh' then head to Saint-Paul-de-Mausole Monastery. This former clinic, which treated the painter in 1889-1890, features a reconstruction of his room and the Valetudo art gallery. At the Musée Estrine, visit the Van Gogh Interpretation Centre and learn more about the artist's life.
Day 4 – La Ciotat, the cradle of cinema
Begin day 4 with a stroll along the 'Grande Plage' beach. Head to the port to see the world's oldest cinema, the Eden Théâtre, before touring the town's museum. Peckish? Grab lunch at the port. In the afternoon, sail over to the Ile Verte and explore its colourful landscapes. On the way back, stop at Parc du Mugel before hitting the shops in the town centre. Watching the sun set from the beach at Figuerolles Cove makes a fitting end to such a beautiful day!
Day 5 – Aubagne, in Pagnol country
Spend your last day taking your time to see Aubagne. For instance, Marcel Pagnol's childhood home is open to the public. And visit places where the famous author and director spent his youth and set his greatest films on a guided tour in the Garlaban hills or in summer with the 'From Aubagne to La Treille' tour. And when the silver screen meets the world of miniatures, you have 'The Little World of Marcel Pagnol'. At this unique museum, relive iconic scenes from his films including the Triologie Marseillaise, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. Children will love it!
- Visit Arles and its 100 monuments classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Venture out to Baux near Saint-Rémy to visit the Carrières de Lumière where you can see multimedia shows inspired by the greatest artists in history (Michelangelo, Klimt, Chagall and others)
- Mixing up art by the great masters with contemporary works and street art
- Soaking up the Provence scenery through the eyes of the masters
The best time to visit
- In March for Aubagne's international film festival
- In April to take part in Aix-en-Provence's Easter festival
- In May for the Printemps de l'Art Contemporain exhibition in Marseille
- In September for the Feria du Riz festival in Arles
Culture, Not to be missed
By public transport, Personal vehicle
Aix en Provence, Arles, Saint Rémy de Provence, Aubagne, La Ciotat
All year round
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Salon-de-Provence, by So Girly Blog
Salon de Provence is known thanks to Nostradamus and is a typical Provencal town. Provencal architecture, designer clothes boutiques and a nod to Nostradamus, this is all waiting for you when you visit the town centre. Situated at 50 kilometres from Marseille, there are some beautiful cultural and historic discoveries to be made throughout the itinerary and which will allow you discover the town centre.
Istres by Ma cigale est fantastique
The "Porte d’Arles" gives us direct access to the historical centre, which is well worth a visit. I suggest starting by the Tourist Office. This decidedly contemporary building reflects the spirit of the town at the crossroads of tradition and modernity. We will do a little shopping and then take a cultural and gourmet break. We will take a quiet stroll in the Etang de l’olivier gardens before going the other side to the Etang de Berre for a bite to eat.
What can you do in a day in Aix-en-Provence? The answer is in this tour which combines history and Provençal art de vivre. A good place to start is the town's farmers market which sells nothing but fresh produce. Follow this with a tour of the charming old town with its atlantes and decorative wrought-iron before wandering along Cours Mirabeau and its fountains. After stopping for lunch at Mickael Féval's gourmet restaurant, anyone who loves art and architecture should head to the Mazarin district for its sumptuous mansions and the Granet Museum. After that, you'll be ready to escape to the peace and calm around Mount Sainte-Victoire. Let's go!Cruise lovers absolutely cannot miss this essential landmark just 30 minutes from Marseille!
The 'OM' is more than just a symbol, it's a way of life!
Aix-en-Provence prides in concocting 'Calisson' candies made with a thin candied melon paste and ground almonds topped with royal icing. Yummy
Celebrated at Candlemas, this traditional Provencal biscuit is also a popular sweet treat all year round
'Savon de Marseille', how to tell the real from the fake